Two new schemes have been announced by two local councils to clamp down on rogue landlords and agents, joining a further half a dozen or more initiatives launched so far this year.
Luton Borough Council and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets have both introduced different schemes with varying levels of enforcement.
Luton has begun consultation on a selective landlord licensing scheme, while Tower Hamlets has launched a ‘private renters’ charter’ in addition to its existing licensing scheme.
Luton wants to introduce licensing in five key wards of the town’s 19 wards. The scheme would see landlords required to apply for a license to operate each of their properties within these areas. Landlords are to be charged £110 per property, plus £110 per bedroom for a five-year licence.
“The aim is to improve the overall quality of private housing provision and ensure that parts of the town that are currently blighted by poor quality accommodation and issues that often go hand in hand, are eradicated and improve the quality of life for all,” council Tom Shaw (pictured, left) told Bedfordshire on Sunday.
The council says it want to introduced the scheme to stamp out ‘speculative landlords’ who offer over-crowded and poor-quality housing in the most deprived areas of the borough. The scheme does not specifically target letting agents, but instead will require minimum standards of property management instead.
Tower Hamlets has taken a different approach to regulating privately rented property. It has launched a charter setting out minimum standards required of properties within the borough, backed by many of the industry’s key organisations.
This includes ARLA Propertymark, the three main deposit schemes, the Residential Landlords Association, and two ombudsman schemes.
The charter sets out the minimum standards already required by law including discrimination, letting fees transparency, deposit protection, evictions, safety, repairs and rent increases.
“I am pleased to endorse the Tower Hamlets Private Renters’ Charter which will publicise the rights of renters, and when backed up with enforcement action, will also help to take out rogue landlords,” says Michael Stoop, Vice-Chair, The Property Ombudsman Service (pictured, right).
Last year the borough introduced a selective licencing scheme similar to Luton’s which charges landlords £520 per property for a five-year license.
These two schemes are the latest in a series introduced this year including within Telford, Scarborough, East Staffordshire, Romford, Sefton, Salford, Nottingham and the London Borough of Brent.
This localised approach to regulation of the private rented sector was criticised last month by the Fair Fees Forum set up by NALS, which described it as a ‘post code lottery’ of varying levels of enforcement and fees both for agents and landlords.